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S4 Current Anthropology Volume 55, Supplement 9, August 2014

Crisis, Value, and Hope:


Rethinking the Economy
An Introduction to Supplement 9

by Susana Narotzky and Niko Besnier

Crisis, value, and hope are three concepts whose intersection and mutual constitution open the door for a rethinking
of the nature of economic life away from abstract models divorced from the everyday realities of ordinary people,
the inadequacies of which the current world economic crisis has exposed in particularly dramatic fashion. This
rethinking seeks to bring to center stage the complex ways in which people attempt to make life worth living for
themselves and for future generations, involving not only waged labor but also structures of provisioning, investments
in social relations, relations of trust and care, and a multitude of other forms of social action that mainstream
economic models generally consider trivial, marginal, and often counterproductive. A holistic understanding of how
people organize their economic lives is attentive to both the temporality of value and the relationship between
different scales of value. It is attentive to the spatial configuration of economic life in many societies in which the
future has become synonymous with geographical mobility. It is attentive to the fact that making a living is about
making people in their physical, social, spiritual, affective, and intellectual dimensions.

Rethinking the economy is an ambitious project, and the materials that we seek to make sense of here weave together
selection of the three themes of crisis, value, and hope with these questions around the central question of making a liv-
which we seek to open up a broader debate is an indication ing.
of the starting point: the crude realities of the many, those The three interlinked themes of crisis, value, and hope
of ordinary people. The focus on “common” or “ordinary” support a methodological perspective that underlines scale
people highlights the fact that those whose decision-making while focusing on everyday practices and understandings.
capacities are restricted by their limited assets, be it in terms “Crisis” refers to structural processes generally understood to
of wealth or power, are nevertheless capable of developing be beyond the control of people but simultaneously expressing
sometimes complex individual or collective strategies to en- people’s breach of confidence in the elements that provided
hance their own well-being and the well-being of future gen- relative systemic stability and reasonable expectations for the
erations. Here we define “well-being” as the accomplishment future. “Value” indicates a terrain where people negotiate the
of socially reasonable expectations of material and emotional boundaries defining worth, operating at the intersection of
comfort that depend on access to the diverse resources needed institutional top-down normative frameworks and collective
to attain them. The context of a breakdown of expectations bottom-up meanings and obligations. Finally, “hope” points
that the global crisis has produced in many regions of the to the tension between personal expectations, the capacity to
world has reconfigured values and reshuffled the frameworks design projects, and the actual ability to accomplish them in
of moral obligation. As a result, the imagining of possible a given conjuncture. Although we want to privilege a bottom-
futures and how to make them happen has also changed. The of-the-pyramid perspective that centers on the majority of
common people’s everyday practices to earn a living, the use
of scale as a method immediately sets our inquiry in a field
Susana Narotzky is Professor in the Departament d’Antropologia of connections with other social actors, namely, those that
Cultural i Història d’Amèrica i Àfrica of the Facultad de Geografı́a accumulate wealth, knowledge, and power and that can op-
e Historia of the Universitat de Barcelona (C/Montealegre 6–8, 08001
erate at institutional and wide-ranging scales.
Barcelona, Spain [narotzky@ub.edu]) and a Fellow at the Amsterdam
While our aim is to develop a theory of the social repro-
Institute for Social Science Research (Postbus 15718, 1001 NE
Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Niko Besnier is Professor of Cultural duction of present-day capitalism, we think that this is only
Anthropology in the Afdeling Antropologie at the Universiteit van possible by understanding that the separation between the
Amsterdam (Postbus 15509, 1001 NA Amsterdam, The Netherlands abstract model and its concrete manifestations is itself an
[n.besnier@uva.nl]). This paper was submitted 10 IV 13, accepted 6 aspect of the dominant economic ideology that we need to
III 14, and electronically published 18 VII 14. engage critically. Specific constellations of social relations and

! 2014 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved. 0011-3204/2014/55S9-0002$10.00. DOI: 10.1086/676327

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Narotzky and Besnier Rethinking the Economy S5

cultural dispositions that make the fabric of everyday life beyond exchange as the main paradigm; instead, we inves-
become structurally significant for capitalist accumulation in tigate the economy in terms of focusing on social reproduc-
their relation to each other. Historically produced regional tion, that is, continuity and change of human collective life-
and local specificities regarding the form in which economic sustaining systems.
practices are embedded are decisive in a complex process
articulating multiple agents and institutional arrangements in
Making a Living
a global space of accumulation. We think ethnography is a
precious instrument that draws attention to the historical
production of specificity and its role in structuring differ- In rethinking the economy, our aim is to build on a wealth
entiation. of anthropological knowledge, both empirical and theoretical,
How people make a living in different social and cultural that has documented practices for making a living in different
contexts has been of long-standing interest in anthropology. parts of the world. We are particularly concerned with what
Over the decades, anthropologists have generated a sizeable ordinary people understand by “a life worth living” and what
corpus of ethnographic materials documenting the diversity they do to strive toward that goal, particularly under con-
of practices and reasonings that earning a livelihood involves ditions of radical uncertainty (“crisis”). Our emphasis on eth-
in different situations. The issue has been addressed at dif- nographically grounded research aims to compare sociolog-
ferent moments in the history of the discipline through var- ically and culturally what emerges as valuable across different
ious theoretical and methodological lenses. Some anthropol- ethnographic cases (“value”). Finally, we recenter our under-
ogists (Mintz 1986; Roseberry 1988; Wolf 1982) have focused standing of the economy around social reproduction, that is,
on the material conditions and social relations that made around the objective and subjective possibilities to project life
production possible (e.g., access to resources, ownership), into the future (“hope”).
while others have emphasized the circulation of resources and Social reproduction entails addressing different scales in
the frameworks of obligation that mobilized transfers and terms of which ordinary people evaluate the possibility of
defined differential allocation (e.g., gift, commodity; Gregory continuities, transformations, or blockages. Residents of post-
1982, 1997; Malinowski 1961 [1922], 1961 [1926]). Recent war Sarajevo, for example, are deeply conscious of the lack
works, however, have tended to view production and circu- of “progress” in their current existence colored by the many
lation as inextricably entangled with one another in social obstacles in the “road to Europe” in contrast to the accom-
practice. plishment of “normal” expectations and hope for a better
In the context of the gradual worldwide expansion of the future that they experienced before the war, a contrast that
market system as the dominant mode of resource allocation, projects the future at different scales in each case (Jansen
exchange has come to dominate as both a concept and an 2014). Social reproduction is selective, and an understanding
anthropological concern. Moreover, the rise to prominence of it must contend with the boundaries of what needs to be
in the course of the twentieth century of economics as a reproduced, boundaries that are the result of social negotia-
scientific discipline whose main goal is the creation of models tions. What compels a focus on social reproduction is the fact
of market coordination based on calculability has contributed that anxieties about livelihood are often couched in terms of
to the market principle becoming a powerful metonym of the the relations between generations, be it at the individual and
economy. This has been facilitated by the expansion of market household levels (“Will my children find a job? Will I be able
principles to most social domains and areas of the world. In to form a family?”) or at the level of the state (today’s youth
turn, exchange and calculability have increasingly become is- as a “lost generation”). These tropes highlight the centrality
sues that anthropologists have had to address in order to of a time-space dimension in the way in which ordinary peo-
conceptualize value and valuation processes. ple reason about well-being and its achievement. Past expe-
Anthropologists’ interest in exchange harks back to the riences provide a horizon of expectations configuring present
historical foundations of the discipline, particularly in the aspirations and hopes for the future.
works of Malinowski (1961 [1922], 1961 [1926]) and Mauss We propose to rethink practices of making a living, their
(2003 [1923–1924]), and it has given rise to important debates materiality, and the concepts that contribute to produce them
about value. Some of the most productive of the last half by asking the following questions: “How do ordinary people’s
century have focused on the recognition that people simul- experiences shape the livelihood projects that they under-
taneously engage in different “spheres” or “regimes” of value take?” and “How do material, social, and cultural realities
in their daily life (Appadurai 1988a, 1988b; Bloch and Parry constrain these projects?” We think of “the economy” neither
1989; Bohannan 1959). An important aspect of what makes as a reified domain of inquiry isolated from the rest of human
something valuable is its capacity to preserve, increase, or existence nor as a particular form of social action such as
transform its worth as it moves in time and space (Graeber calculability. Rather, we conceptualize the economy as con-
2001; Munn 1992), which often has the effect of altering scales sisting of all the processes that are involved, in one fashion
of value or constructing them in complex ways (Besnier 2011; or the other, in “making a living,” taken in a very broad sense
Guyer 2004; Thomas 1991). Here, however, we seek to go and stressing both the “effort” involved and the aim of “sus-

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S6 Current Anthropology Volume 55, Supplement 9, August 2014

taining life.” But making a living is equally about cooperation much safer “investment” than petty entrepreneurship, con-
and about being part of a collective that gives meaning to trary to the assumptions that underlie development policies
life, makes it “worth the trouble.” We agree with Graeber’s that prioritize microcredit and the entrepreneurial self. Thus,
(2001) reinterpretation of the labor theory of value that de- poor Brazilians in the impoverished Pernambuco region af-
fines value as the spending of creative energy in producing firm that “money is good, but a friend is better”: while money
and maintaining society (68), but we also stress the insight, disappears as soon as it is earned, ties of friendship can be
found in numerous ethnographic accounts, that the way a counted on in times of need (de L’Estoile 2014). In a similar
society enacts people’s worth is a clear expression of its eco- vein, women in rural Tamil Nadu, who have long been ac-
nomic and political organization (Terradas 1992; Wolf 1999). quainted with a wide range of borrowing practices, including
We thus need to understand what the significant differences— those that the microcredit development programs promote,
boundaries, institutions, categories of people—those in power know well that indebtedness generates recognition and sup-
strive to reproduce in order to maintain their worth and their port (but also political patronage, forms of labor obligation,
wealth. and shame) through the wide social network that it presup-
This expanded understanding of the economy cuts across poses (Guérin 2014), while Latin American migrants in Bar-
a broad range of human activity beyond the purely material celona juggle complex dynamics of reciprocity, mutual care,
and is attentive to different coexisting regimes of value. Mak- and financial transactions in order to “make it” under difficult
ing a living does not only depend on people taking part in circumstances (Palomera 2014). But while people in situations
the market by selling their labor for wages—or alternatively of serious precariousness are most adept at developing com-
by selling their products or services outside state regulatory plex coping strategies, the parsimony of the not so wealthy
frameworks, using microcredit financing, or appealing to the but not poor is also constituted of multiple and diverse live-
state or NGOs for subsidies. It also involves dynamics that lihood projects. These dynamics have been analyzed exten-
are not commonly thought of as “economic” or that are often sively in the context of family firms, ethnic entrepreneurship,
defined by mainstream economics as malfunctioning, defi- and industrial clusters in most regions of the world (Blim
cient, or signs of “developmental backwardness.” For exam- 1990; Portes and Sensenbrenner 1993; Smart and Smart 2005;
ple, sacrifice among the Luo, for whom the domains of re- Yanagisako 2002). They have also received considerable an-
ligion and economic rationales overlap, forges connections alytic attention in developing nations, where even doctors and
between material and immaterial entities and forces, past and civil servants may moonlight as taxi drivers and small-scale
future, that are central to the production of a sense of be- business entrepreneurs to secure their families’ economic
longing, hope for the future, and physical and spiritual well- base, or where civil servants might become moneylenders or
being across generations (Shipton 2014). Even in the market- the door to subsidies (Besnier 2009; Owusu 2008). Similarly,
dominated environments in which most people live today, in postapartheid South Africa, it is the new black middle
many livelihood resources are produced and circulate outside classes (as well as whites) who engage in what some term
or on the margin of market practices. They follow unpre- “reckless borrowing,” bearing witness to the fact that these
dictable paths along provisioning circuits, alternating between salaried families need more than just the salary they receive
commoditized and noncommoditized valuation, dependent to maintain the consumption practices associated with their
on the framework of available opportunities, constrained by class position (James 2014).
political instruments, and regulated by different modalities of We wish to think about making a living without privileging
responsibility (Besnier 2011; Narotzky 2012b). In times of a particular domain of activity (exchange), a particular in-
crisis, people operate with coping strategies that enable them tentionality of action (gain), or a particular valuation process
to locate increasingly elusive resources. These strategies may (calculation). We do want to stress that the practices we define
include relations of trust and care, economies of affect, net- as economic have one important objective, namely, sustaining
works of reciprocity encompassing both tangible and intan- life across generations. While our perspective can be thought
gible resources, and material and emotional transfers that are of as neosubstantivist, we would rather think of it as realist
supported by moral obligations. Many consist of unregulated and as emerging from a long intellectual history focusing on
activities or activities that cannot be regulated (Hart 1973; how people cooperate or clash around the will to produce
Humphrey 2002; Lomnitz 1975; Procoli 2004; Smart and and reproduce a livelihood.
Smart 1993; Stack 1974). But these strategies can also have This perspective is positioned at the crossroads of several
the effect of defining and marginalizing categories of people theoretical traditions. First, the political economic tradition
(e.g., on grounds of ethnicity, gender, or race) whose access in its neo-Marxist and post-Marxist variants has inspired so-
to resources will be violently curtailed (Li 2001; Sider 1996; cial scientists to explain the unequal distribution of wealth
Smith 2011). through an analysis of the historical processes that produced
In order to make life worth living, people invest in multiple relations of production, which can variously be cooperative,
aspects of existence that appear at first glance to have little conflictual, or exploitative (Roseberry 1988, 1989). This tra-
economic substance but end up having economic conse- dition, whose relevance to the world’s present-day realities
quences. Among the poor, social relations often constitute a has not waned, approaches social reproduction through the

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Narotzky and Besnier Rethinking the Economy S7

lens of the structural dialectics that produces political and ments of social differentiation and wealth accumulation and
economic differentiation (Harvey 2003; Mintz 1986; Wolf are subject to institutionalizing forces. For example, Polish
1982). labor migrants from various parts of Poland and at different
Second, theoretical approaches that showcase moral econ- times establish particular forms of care configurations with
omies seek to understand the mutual obligations and re- families and friends, forms that are shaped by the economic
sponsibilities that render exploitation acceptable, at least for and political contexts of the decision to migrate (Pine 2014).
a time, and enable particular forms of socioeconomic differ- In a similar vein, Mexican labor migrants in California juggle
entiation to endure (Moore 1978; Scott 1976; Thompson between different regimes of value that are interwoven with
1971, 1993). The moral dimensions of economic practices different responsibilities to families back home, the need to
have garnered increased attention in the last decade (Browne appear to have “made it,” and the political economic struc-
2009; Edelman 2005; Fassin 2009; Fontaine 2008; Hann 2010; tures of labor and migration policies (Villarreal 2014). While
Robbins 2009; Sayer 2000) as an alternative to rational choice feminist economics recenters the economy around the human
theory to explain the motivations that guide human behavior. need of mutual support and political economy attends to the
However, we want to stress the need to articulate this view movements that produce differentiation and enable wealth
with political economy for it to have meaningful purchase. accumulation and unequal distribution, moral economy in-
Indeed, moments of disjuncture between new practices of quires into the grounds for claiming, the frameworks of en-
exploitation and past frameworks of responsibility capture the titlement, and the design of reasonable expectations.
moral aspects of the economy as they are being challenged
by those in power. Crisis
Finally, approaches from feminist economics constitute an
important basis for thinking about the “economy otherwise.” Times of crisis expose the fragility of economic structures in
Feminist voices have stressed that unpaid work and an ethics particularly dramatic fashion. At the same time, they drive
of care are key to an understanding of economic processes people, if not compel them, to adapt their old modes of
beyond self-interested individual maximization (Benerı́a livelihood to changing conditions and to create new ones.
2003; Elson 2001; Lawson 2007; McDowell 2004; Nelson Crisis signals a breakdown in social reproduction, a mismatch
2006). Central to well-being, care can be provisioned in or between configurations of cooperation that used to “work,”
out of market circuits of exchange, but it is also framed by by producing particular expectations and obligations and a
the tension between love and money (Ferber and Nelson 1993, different configuration of opportunities and resources. As a
2003; Zelizer 1997). The practice of care involves a constel- concept, crisis holds together two meanings of different orders
lation of agents that operate in domestic, market, state, and that defy resolution.
voluntary sectors, forming what Razavi (2007) calls the “care Crisis contrasts with forms of stability that enable the de-
diamond.” The interdependence of these various agents sign of projects and that support the trust that existing con-
means that changes in care practices in one sector (e.g., the figurations will enable the realization of those projects. Against
household) are often related to changes in another sector (e.g., this idea of normality, crisis signals a rupture that emerges as
state services). In a similar vein, caregiving articulates with a menace at the same time that it forces ingenuity and cre-
care receiving along care chains that connect these multiple ativity. There is a long scholastic history of thinking about
agents (Hochschild 2003; Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001; Parreñas rupture as being limited in time and eventually giving way
2001; Weber, Gojard, and Gramain 2003; Yeates 2004). Fem- to stability that has informed both popular and analytic un-
inists have also problematized the unequal distribution of derstandings (e.g., Koselleck 2006). A faith in relative stability
intrahousehold resources and responsibilities, their relation achieved through monetary policy is the epistemological basis
with life-cycle dynamics, and their articulation with inequal- of mainstream economics’ predictions about the future. The
ities elsewhere in society (Dalla Costa and James 1975; Har- observable reality, however, is that crisis may not be as ex-
even 1977; Hartmann 1981; Narotzky 1988). The most im- ceptional as economists assume, which explains why they are
portant theoretical breakthrough of feminist economics is often hard pressed to explain their failed predictions, as the
possibly the showcasing of relations of personal dependency global economic crisis that began in 2008 has illustrated in
(as opposed to the imagined autonomy of the individual ra- particularly dramatic fashion. In Marxist theory, on the con-
tional actor) and of emotional value as central to social re- trary, crisis is an inherent feature of capitalist structure, where
production. The tension between moral frameworks that the drive toward profit making results in the tendency of the
stress dependency and those that underscore autonomy un- rate of profit to fall and in overproduction, overcapacity, and
derlies contemporary practices of making a living. overaccumulation. Although cyclical in nature, these ruptures
The articulation of these three theoretical strands responds become increasingly damaging to the resilience of the overall
to the scalar methodology. Care relations observable in the system because they escalate the conflict among classes to an
household, for example, result from gendered frameworks of irresolvable point that would push the entire system to its
moral obligation in a particular society. These are often pro- breakdown. The temporality aspect of crises, however, needs
duced as local or diasporic expressions of the global move- attention both in its popular and expert understandings,

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S8 Current Anthropology Volume 55, Supplement 9, August 2014

whether it appears expressed as a punctuated time of signif- projects of making a living and enhancing future opportu-
icant turning points (Guyer 2007; Jansen 2014) or as an en- nities and around macroprojects of social configurations of
during time of waiting (de L’Estoile 2014), whether the break- power and asset distribution. At the same time, crisis may
down is situated at the systemic or at the subjective level. create new understandings of “generations” that have impli-
Indeed, there is ample evidence to suggest that instability cations beyond the confines of intimate social groups, namely,
and uncertainty have been the norm in most social, cultural, for the reproduction of society as a whole. In particular, the
and historical contexts. Periods of stability, such as the mo- realities of crisis and its discourse transform the material and
ment of economic growth and welfare expansion that followed moral environments that support inter- and intragenerational
World War II in North America and Europe (France’s les transfers.
trente glorieuses) are in fact historical anomalies, which in any In southern Europe, for example, crisis has now become
case only benefitted a comparatively small portion of the part of ordinary people’s everyday reality, one with which
world’s population and were predicated on neocolonial ex- they have to contend in trying to make a living and when
tractive practices that made life harder for many elsewhere. thinking about how to invest in the next generation. While
Under most circumstances, people must contend with the experts and governments insist that the crisis is an “excep-
unpredictability of their projects, making crisis rather than tional” situation, an interlude before things get back to nor-
risk an integral part of their horizon of expectations. However, mal, for many people around the world, the experience of
other than in extreme circumstances, they innovate practices chaos and permanent vital insecurity is the situation that
and institutions, often of an ad hoc character, that cushion designs the field in which they need to play. In our view,
the effects of instability and enable a relative sense of con- crisis—both as an experienced reality and as a folk and expert
tinuity over time. conceptual category—is a good place to ground an inquiry
An increasing proportion of the world’s population is un- into the economy given its overwhelming presence in the lives
able to achieve well-being or only achieve it precariously. At of many people around the world.
the same time, while some institutions (e.g., state, family,
church) that regulate moral and political frameworks of re- Value
sponsibility and support the transfer of resources are being
undermined in various ways, other institutional frameworks In “Essai sur le don,” Mauss (2003 [1923–1924]) demon-
(e.g., religious, ethnic, nationalistic) for guiding human be- strates how different kinds of value-making practices (e.g.,
havior and channeling goods are being created or recon- juridical, religious, economic, aesthetic) are valued and in-
figured. This creativity, however, may involve exclusionary corporated in valuables, but he is also concerned with un-
practices that create and demonize an Other (in terms of race, derstanding equivalence reached in exchange and thus grap-
gender, ethnicity, nationalism, or other forms of human dif- ples with the tension between “values” and “value.” The other
ference), which becomes the target of violence in struggles tension he negotiates is between the material object and the
over access to resources and respect (Gingrich 2006; Hage social relations it expresses. More recent ethnographies have
1998; Holmes 2000; Kalb 2009). These effects underline the argued that these tensions are not resolved with the expansion
need to understand the ingenuity and creativity, as well as of capitalist market principles. In The Great Transformation,
their potentially dark undertones, that social actors deploy in what Polanyi (1971 [1944]) calls “fictitious commodities”—
coping with an environment that is largely not of their own namely, land, people, and money—appear as disembedded in
making but in which they have to live. the process of market exchange, but in fact this disembedding
The current worldwide financial crisis of 2008, for example, is artificial because they are really constituted in different value
has produced uncertainty of both an economic nature frameworks. In his chapter on commodity fetishism, Marx
(shrinking resources, decreasing employment opportunities, (1990 [1867]) approaches this insight in a different but com-
precarious job structure, failing credit, higher indirect taxa- plementary fashion: things, people, and land are always em-
tion, reduced state benefits) and a political nature (disem- bedded in the social relations that produce them as com-
powerment, loss of entitlements, “technical governments,” modities. Both Marx and Polanyi see these transformations
democratic deficit) in the old centers of Western capitalism, of embedded values into exchange value as having a negative
a situation that was long present in other spaces of capitalism. effect on most people and, more generally, on social repro-
This uncertainty affects people’s ability to reproduce mate- duction. At the same time, because commodities are produced
rially and emotionally, creating difficulties in forming new through concrete social relations within particular regimes of
families, maintaining existing ones, forming caring relations, value, when they enter the market, the concrete values that
and feeling respected. Focusing on intergenerational relations they acquire within these regimes increase their value in mar-
such as those expressed through transfers of tangible and ket terms. For example, the “authenticity” of a rug produced
intangible assets (e.g., property, care, knowledge, skills, and in a Turkish village as part of a dowry bestows on it added
values) highlights the complexities of social reproduction on market value when it reaches a New York gallery (Spooner
different scales. Indeed, social reproduction can be defined as 1988; see also Villarreal 2014 on the need to provide tourists
continuity that brings generations together around micro- in Chiapas an “authentic” experience). More generally, the

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Narotzky and Besnier Rethinking the Economy S9

question is whether and how multiple concrete values crys- duction of the valuable object to a single measure of value.
tallize in a unique value in exchange. Much of this is addressed Instead, they recognize value pluralism. They insist that in-
in exchange theory and the debate about the gift (Damon commensurability does not imply incomparability but weak
1980; Godelier 1996; Graeber 2001; Gregory 1982, 1997; comparability in which the choice between alternatives is not
Mauss 2003 [1923–1924]; Munn 1992; Robbins and Akin based on a single measure of comparison. Even in the face
1999; Strathern 1988, 1992; Weiner 1980, 1992), and it is tied of incompatible values, valuation can lead to practical judg-
to the debate on money, special monies, scales of calculation, ments by reasonable agents. While commensurability is de-
conversions, and the entanglement of valuation practices fined in terms of trade-offs, that is, in a frame of exchange,
(Guyer 2004; Hart 2000; Maurer 2006; Zelizer 1997). comparability is not dependent on trade-offs but on prefer-
Anthropologists have underscored the fact that not all val- ences that are grounded in morality. Research on environ-
ues are commensurable, meaning that values cannot be mental conflicts has focused on the possibility of accepting
gauged against a single measure of value. Neither are values compensation for a “bad” or on the willingness to compensate
always determined in exchange. For example, Godelier (1996), for preserving a “good”: witness the “willing to accept–willing
following Weiner, stressed the difference between values that to pay” tests used in impact evaluations or forensic decisions
are alienable through gift or exchange and inalienable values (e.g., Exxon Valdez). Refusal to accept compensation at any
that must be kept, and he saw in the latter the embodiment price expresses an absolute preference that is nontradable,
of a society’s foundational core. In his distinction between which is often supported by strong collective arguments of
the “base” and the “market,” Gudeman (2008) differentiates an ethical or other nature that are focused on the future. For
between value that cannot be measured (and is therefore in- African-Americans and Latino residents of southern Greater
commensurable) and value that can be (and is therefore com- Los Angeles, for example, having to live with polluted air is
mensurable). Value is not measured when sharing is the dom- not an acceptable price to pay for the promise of new jobs,
inant form of circulation, which takes place in the base (e.g., from which discriminatory hiring practices will exclude them
within the household or the community). The need for com- anyway (Brodkin 2014). Indeed, in order to compensate for
parison and mutual evaluation emerges on the boundary of the destruction of certain values, these must be reduced to a
the base as reciprocity or market exchange (e.g., between certain standard of value that will make possible the exchange
households or communities). The market is the epitome of of the negative effect for an equivalent asset (e.g., monetary
commensurability. In the market, however, multiple scales of compensation, community improvements, the promise of
value can be conflated into a continuous gradient while at jobs). Compensability rests on calculation in an exchange
the same time people continue to value things on different frame, but value is not always a function of it (Funtowicz
scales in what Guyer (2004) calls, in reference to Atlantic and Ravetz 1994; Martı́nez-Alier et al. 1998; Spash 2000).
Africa, “exchange performances” (97–98). While calculation Indeed, from an anthropological perspective, Paige West
is central to exchange, it does not exhaust the range of val- (2005) alerts us to the fact that indigenous processes that
uation practices. Judgments of worth may not depend on a make the environment valuable are often dialectical relation-
ranked scale of value that produces measurable qualification ships that produce identity and space simultaneously. Here,
but may rest instead on comparison and assessment by the the processes of valuation themselves are incommensurable
“reasonable agent” who is embedded in multiple, often in- with the categorization system that sustains the economic
compatible, value regimes. Moreover, things may be com- models of conservationists. “It is not that Gimi value forests,
pared “fuzzily” and traded suboptimally as being “good plants, and animals in different ways from outsiders—they
enough.” Finally, what cannot be counted, compared, or ex- do not necessarily ‘value’ them at all, because Gimi do not
changed is often what people consider to be of greatest value separate themselves from their environment” (West 2005:
and essential to the continuity of the thread of life between 639). In Wukan, a fishing village in east Guangdong Province,
past, present, and future (Shipton 2014). protests against landgrabs, analyzed by He and Xue (2014),
Insights from ecological economics have further compli- are not predicated on a sense of collective identity among
cated the debate. What ecological economists have been deal- disowned peasants but are instead based on various agendas
ing with for some 20 years is the fact that the environment that together generate a negatively defined and increasingly
is a site of competing values increasingly expressed in open marginalized peasant identity that is given legitimacy by a
conflict. Different social actors produce and value a location reconstituted clan structure that brings together pre-1949 el-
(e.g., as a livelihood resource, a marketable asset, a production ements with local forms of the state (cf. Brandtstädter 2003).
factor, a religious site, an aesthetic good) in terms of the Money figures centrally in the relationship between value
“goods” and the “bads” that can accrue from its use in various calculation and morality (Bloch and Parry 1989; Gregory
ways. These conflicts strike the familiar chord of tensions 1997; Guyer 2004; Hart 2000; Zelizer 1997). It can be an
between values and value, which anthropologists have long instrument of individual desire, which drives the imagination
been addressing (Albert 1956; Munch 1970). In dealing with of personal autonomy and worth, as easily as it can be an
valuation in environmental conflicts, ecological economists instrument of collective dependency, which underlines how
reject the reductionism of commensurability, that is, the re- we necessarily belong to each other (Graeber 2011; Hart

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S10 Current Anthropology Volume 55, Supplement 9, August 2014

2000). Money “keeps track” of what people do to each other produce a good life. For example, young Malagasy migrant
and is thus an instrument of collective memory. Its capacity women have to balance their understanding of their value as
to become a “memory bank” is based on its ability to endure providers of sexual, reproductive, and caring labor to the
and thus convey value through time. And this value seems Frenchmen they marry with their value as providers of the
to refer centrally to “making society,” keeping it alive in time. resources that they secure through low-wage labor to folks
These dynamics are particularly striking in the case of other back home (Cole 2014). When they lose their worth, the
kinds of valued objects, such as wampum among the Iroquois questions that people ask are “How is this possible?” “What
and Melanesian valuables (Graeber 2001; Munn 1992). Social made it happen?” “Who is responsible?” and “What is to be
reproduction thus comes back to the fore in an interpretation done?” Ordinary people search for logical connections and
of money as bridging between the individual and the collec- often focus on power (be it magical, divine, plutocratic, or
tive, autonomy and dependency, short-term transactional or- political) as the force that determines their worth. And power
ders and long-term ones. Money shares its capacity to be a is a means-ends relation defined by its efficacy, linking human
“store of value” with other kinds of valuables such as real and other entities in a causal connection. The logical con-
estate, highlighting the temporality of value and of the criteria nections in terms of which people understand these questions
used in assessing worth through time as illustrated by the are often couched in terms of the responsibility of powerful
attractiveness of home ownership as a saving and investment agents to care. For example, they think of the state as having
strategy among Latin American migrants in Barcelona, made a responsibility to care for them, and when the state cuts
possible in the 2000s by subprime mortgages, overindebt- welfare benefits, they interpret these cuts as the state’s failure
edness, and intricate reciprocity obligations (Palomera 2014). in its basic obligation. When laid off, it is the boss’s failure
The temporality of value is particularly suggestive. In the to care that is at stake. In Western cultural frameworks and
articles in this special issue of Current Anthropology that focus probably others, care implies dependence, but it must also be
on credit (Guérin 2014; James 2014; Villarreal 2014), we find counterbalanced by recognition of autonomy, which is the
that beyond the accounting of debt interest through market basis of responsibility and of social and economic adulthood.
instruments, which are obviously time dependent, credit is Personal worth is contingent on a delicate balance between
tied to a multiple-value assessment of investment in a better the two (Dubois 2014; Gallie and Paugam 2002). Perceived
future (Shipton 2014). Ordinary people’s everyday financial as a kind of moral obligation predicated on the recognition
practices thus often have ambivalent meanings. People may of human worth, care makes life worthwhile at the same time
think of them as an asset when they serve to attenuate other that it provides ways of accessing resources (food, housing,
forms of subordination (e.g., migration to escape one’s sub- subsidies, employment, information, comfort, etc.).
ordination to a landlord or to kin) or enhance respect (e.g.,
enabling ceremonial expenses or consumption goods), even Hope
when this perspective forces them to patronize a loan shark
or pawnshop. Alternatively, they can see them as a liability The economy is about projecting into the future. People’s
when they give rise to an increased dependency that produces economic practices have a clear temporal orientation to ho-
shame and to material deprivation that results in their failure rizons of expectation that are framed by past experiences and
to meet moral obligations. In precarious situations, social the mythical reconfigurations of memories of that past (e.g.,
valuation is often the premise that underpins practices of the idealization of a past when “things were better” or the
investment, and credit is a tool that retains the ambiguity of vilification of a past “when everyone went hungry”). This
holding the unknown future as the measure of present actions. temporal orientation may consist of individual aspirations
This turns our attention to social worth, a central aspect that find leverage in established expectations but seek to go
of our understanding of what the economy is about. Social beyond them toward a general improvement of life oppor-
worth is how a society values people: the value of people, but tunities. The “American dream,” for instance, articulates an
also the value obtained through people and the value invested individual form of aspiration to a collective configuration of
and accumulated in people. This perspective is informed both hope relating to the well-being of the entire society and in
by anthropological exchange theory, which links the accu- turn to a particular form of relations of production and dis-
mulation of value to personal worth, and by a reconfiguration tribution, namely, historically, Fordism (on free-market uto-
of the labor theory of value, which envisions people as the pianism, see Harvey 2000:173–179). But the dream of a better
origin of all value incorporated in commodities. Finally, social future can be expressed in many other ways. In mainstream
wealth (“social capital”) appears at the core of economic prac- economic models, it is expressed as growth and the optimal
tices everywhere and is entangled with other forms of wealth allocation of resources. In humanistic models, it is expressed
and their reproduction (Bourdieu 1980; Granovetter 1985; as a flourishing of human capabilities and worth (Gibson-
for a critique of the “social capital” concept, see Narotzky Graham 2005; Hart, Laville, and Cattani 2010; Nelson 2006).
2007). In everyday practice, ordinary people translate these models
The worth of people is dialectically tied to how people as projects for making life better for the next generation, but
organize themselves in their aim to sustain life and possibly of course what “better” means is bound by time and space.

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Narotzky and Besnier Rethinking the Economy S11

In many societies, people equate hope with displacement to identify the hope that hard work will provide economic
in the belief that geographical mobility may translate into security, well-being, and basic respect—is the driving force of
social mobility, it is hoped, in the right direction (e.g., Cole union mobilization among low-level workers in a university
2014; Palomera 2014; Pine 2014; Villarreal 2014). In these hospital in the American South and environmental grassroots
situations, migration can be understood as a material pro- mobilization in the industrial fringes of Greater Los Angeles.
jection into a future that is located somewhere else. This This analytic notion also captures Guangdong peasants’ claim
material projection can acquire an ideational life of its own for recognition of the worth of their work and social identity
and become a migratory disposition that reduces the future in the face of the dispossession of their land by corrupt urban
to mobility (Kalir 2005), although as Pine (2014) demon- developers and local state agents (He and Xue 2014).
strates, it can acquire in the same society different configu- In Méditations pascaliennes, Bourdieu (2003) makes the
rations (e.g., the motivations to migrate, the prospect of re- point that people’s practical sense of the future, their hopes
turning, the distribution of responsibilities) at different times. of a better life, and their investments in terms of continuous
A migratory disposition can flourish even against ample evi- oriented action are attuned to the objective possibilities al-
dence that mobility does not deliver its promises or, worse, lowed by the social and economic framework of their exis-
that it creates a situation in which mobile people who do not tence. The habitus here is the expression of the limits that
“make it” are forced to cope with sometimes appalling living frame future expectations and therefore condition the modes
conditions that are preferable to the shame of returning empty of mobilization in the present for a future. Social differen-
handed, as is the case of the Mexican migrants in California tiation is thus structurally incorporated when future expec-
with whom Villarreal (2014) worked. Migrants may develop tations and decisions about personal investments take form.
among themselves an “economy of appearances” whereby The practical ability to make the future—the capacity to imag-
they know but tacitly agree not to discuss that the success ine it in the present—depends on the everyday material ex-
stories they tell each other and others back home stretch the perience of uncertainty. If every investment in the future is
truth. This is the case of Malagasy migrant women leading associated with uncertainty, it is generally understood as a
unglamorous married lives in provincial France, whose suc- bounded space of uncertainty, limited and regulated by a
cess narratives are not questioned when they make return particular habitus that provides a horizon of expectations.
visits to Madagascar as long as they behave as migrants are This is what Bourdieu (2003) terms la causalité du probable
expected to behave, displaying wealth and nurturing social (causality of the probable; 332) in which “will adjusts to pos-
relations (Cole 2014). In other circumstances, the feeling of sibilities” (312) and can even be represented through ac-
“pattering in place” (Jansen 2014) or “waiting” (de L’Estoile counting practices and calculation devices such as the spread-
2014) becomes the metaphor of blocked expectations, while sheet (Miyazaki 2006). However, absolute uncertainty inhibits
the “road to Europe,” in the case of Sarajevans, or the state’s the capacity to produce everyday reasonable expectations and
development projects, in the case of Brazilians in the North- expresses the breakdown of social reproduction and the moral
east Region, expresses the hope of individual and collective economy that holds it together. Thus, the ways in which peo-
social mobility (see also Ferguson 1999; Guyer 2007). These ple get hold of their future through political mobilization in
dynamics demonstrate both the power and the fragility of the the present is structurally tied to the limits of uncertainty that
equation of hope with movement. are materially produced by economic and political structures,
What, then, produces a sense of the future or its opposite, institutions, and agents.
the sense of not having a future, of the closing of the horizon
of expectation? What kinds of resources enable what futures “Ordinary People,” Models, Ethnographic
to emerge? As one feature of the imagination, hope constitutes Methods, and Scale
an important asset when material resources are lacking in the
present, although complete deprivation often hampers the Our focus on “ordinary people” is based on two related mo-
possibility of imagining a future. For Bourdieu (2003), in a tivations. One is the rather obvious fact that the people whose
situation where the lack of a future becomes an expanding lives are most affected by the economic turmoil of the new
experience for many people, it is the relative autonomy of millennium are not only those who occupy a global “bottom
the symbolic order that can “provide some margin of freedom of the pyramid” (Cross and Street 2009; Errington, Fujikura,
for a political action that may reopen the space of possibilities” and Gewertz 2013) but also those who were previously “mak-
(336). Harvey’s “dialectical utopianism” in turn points to the ing do,” often with expectations of upward mobility. The latter
need to materialize “in institutional, social, cultural and phys- are now finding that the practices that had enabled them to
ical realities” alternative imaginings of society that enable ori- manage in the last couple of generations are increasingly elu-
ented trajectories toward a better future (Harvey 2000:182– sive. These are the lower-middle classes, the working poor,
196). Political mobilization hence hinges on the production the “missing class” (Newman and Chen 2008), those that live
of this margin of freedom through the material enactment of in “fear of falling” (Ehrenreich 1990) or, more fashionably,
symbolic struggles that produce new spaces for hope. Thus, the “99%.” Here we are not replicating anthropology’s his-
what Brodkin (2014) aptly terms “economic citizenship”— torical turn from the “savage slot” to the “suffering slot”

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S12 Current Anthropology Volume 55, Supplement 9, August 2014

(Robbins 2013), but we are instead focusing our attention on people perform as economic. It assumes that the economy
the large demographic base whose economic downturn is a does not preexist economic action but rather that it is con-
particularly striking motivation for reconsidering the econ- stituted by it (Çalışkan and Callon 2009, 2010). Beyond econ-
omy. omization, however, the design of economic models, whether
The second motivation for focusing on ordinary people is expert or folk, is the effect of human political struggles in
a matter of both theoretical and social import. Rather than which power relations are enacted and that result in producing
privileging expert models produced by economists and put differences that limit people’s opportunities for making a liv-
into practice by states and superstate entities, we aim to ex- ing.
plore critically the relationship between these models and the The methodology best suited for an investigation of these
on-the-ground economic practices of those whose main ob- complexities is ethnography. Ethnography enables the explo-
jective is the pursuit of livelihood (Narotzky 2012a). An- ration of how models are constructed and the processes by
thropologists, sociologists, and historians have critiqued the which some are vested with authority while others are not.
power of expert models and of the material, social, and cog- It also enables us to explore how people can undermine or
nitive devices they deploy to produce particular realities that sidestep hegemonic models in the actual conduct of their lives.
ordinary people have to deal with (Callon 1998; Carrier and Ethnography helps us grasp the everyday realities of model
Miller 1998; Elyachar 2005, 2012; Miller 1997; Mitchell 2002; making and their ramifications across what is defined as “eco-
Perelman 2000). For example, economic policy makers in nomic” to encompass the social, the private domain of house-
France make policies that frame the way in which “street- holds and families, the culture of corporations, the shop floor,
level welfare bureaucrats” will deal with welfare recipients who the trade union, social mobilization, and scholarly debate.
are under constant suspicion of being welfare cheats, while Ethnography approaches models as sites of struggle in defin-
in fact recipients are simply trying to coordinate sources of ing relevance. Ethnographic comparison plays a crucial role
income with the demands of the moral economies in which because it enables us to engage with the fact that models are
they are embedded. At the same time, expert models that detachable abstract objects capable of circulating across geo-
appear to be oriented toward the maximization of the state’s graphical, social, and cultural landscapes while at the same
social resources have an increasingly important moralizing time yielding power only as concrete and unique manifes-
function legitimating underpaid and precarious forms of em- tations of historical, social, and cultural realities.
ployment (Dubois 2014). The critique of expert models being This engagement with life as it is lived exposes the variable
out of touch with everyday realities, of course, has a long power of models and their entanglement with everyday life,
intellectual genealogy harking back to Gramsci’s “philosophy particularly the tensions that arise in the design and actual-
of praxis” and his distinction between traditional and organic ization of models on different scales. Such is the case, for
intellectuals (Gramsci 1987) and the power of hegemonic example, in Dubois’s (2014) analysis of the fundamental gap
discourse (Roseberry 1994). between the design of French welfare policies, the instantia-
The epistemological perspective we advocate engages with tion of these policies during the control interviews of recip-
the complex reality of the elusive materiality of models. First, ients, and the pragmatic uses of welfare benefits in the conduct
models are abstract discursive accounts that produce an au- of recipients’ daily lives. Models can also clash across im-
thoritative logic of causality. Second, economic models are probably distant national contexts, with policy debates in one
formal (mathematical) renderings of discursive models that country affecting the local lives of ordinary citizens in another.
obscure their political objective in technical formalization. For example, in the aftermaths of China’s entry into the World
Third, models are instruments for the exercise of power. In Trade Organization in 2001, cottage industries and small firms
short, models are attempts to control a messy reality through in Europe were affected by a technical debate among politi-
abstraction: control through knowledge production and ep- cians and economists about how to define China’s economy
istemic dominance and control of human action through the (as a market-system or non–market-system economy) and
performative force of not only the designs themselves but also how to calculate the value of its commodities in order to
the relations they privilege. Models produce an ideological decide whether its exporting practices were fair or not. Locally,
context that channels action toward the continuity of partic- workers, petty entrepreneurs, and large industrial and com-
ular forms of differentiation. They can be thought of as de- mercial firms’ agents voiced different definitions of the glob-
vices enacting hegemony (Williams 1977) or as producing alized dynamics at stake, calling “dumping” what others de-
habitus in both scholarly practice and ordinary life (Bourdieu fined as cheap imports and asking for state- and European
2003). While posing as descriptions of observed reality, mod- Union–level protectionist measures (Narotzky 2009; see also
els are projects that design the future through a mix of mem- Neiburg 2011 for struggles around inflation indexes in Brazil
ories of past experience and willful imagination. The concept and He and Xue 2014). Ethnographies of socialist and post-
of “economization” provides a promising window on the way socialist regions have provided particularly rich insights into
in which models and economic realities are intertwined by the tensions that enactment of models as well as the struggles
bringing together the processes (behaviors, institutions, ma- over their local definition produce at different scales (Burawoy
terial devices, etc.) that configure what both scholars and lay and Verdery 1999; Humphrey 2002; Mandel and Humphrey

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Narotzky and Besnier Rethinking the Economy S13

2002; Verdery 1996), as Pine (2014) and Jansen (2014) dem- lation of objects of value but also the creation and mainte-
onstrate vividly with ethnographic materials from postsocialist nance of social relationships and the emergence of particular
Poland and Bosnia respectively. social identities that are crucial resources in times of need.
In ethnographies, issues of scale emerge in situations in The production and circulation of resources and the shifts
which ordinary people experience their opportunities of live- between different fields of value affect social relations, and
lihood as pertaining simultaneously to various domains of identities emerge in the context of the social relations these
practice. An example is that of people provisioning food as processes create. The differently situated agents will use var-
marriage prestation at the same time as they are consolidating ious types of rationalities to access and utilize resources. Of-
exchange partnerships with their allies and reproducing the ten, these different logics come into conflict with one another.
cosmological covenant with ancestors and the land (Mali- At other times, emotions such as shame act as regulators of
nowski 1935). When a young man is pushed to migrate as material and social dynamics.
an unskilled laborer or as an aspiring athlete (by the state, The capacity to access different kinds of valuable assets is
his family, or his desire to “make it”), he is engaging with intimately related to temporality, particularly when the rela-
the material opportunities and moral frameworks of the in- tionship between the present and the future is rife with un-
ternational (or regional) labor market, of his local community certainty. But this temporality can be complicated in that the
resources and priorities, of his family’s assets and expecta- certainties for the future that people had in the past can
tions, and of his personal capacities and desires (Besnier become the yardstick for the uncertainties that people ex-
2012). These different scales inform one another on a con- perience in the present. Past, present, and future are related
tinuous basis, but they also acquire relative stability through to one another in multiple ways in people’s understanding
institutional and technical devices. There is no transcendent of their experience and in their definitions of projects for the
overarching logic that can explain economic practices at either future. At the same time, different temporalities interact with
the micro- or macrolevel, as neoclassical market models do. one another and with the assessment of the values that people
The best we can probably do is to observe analytically how give to different resources and to the channels that might help
various scales are defined and how they articulate in practice getting hold of them. What effect does radical uncertainty
(Swyngedouw 2004). about livelihood have on people’s everyday practices of mak-
Contemporary economic relations partake simultaneously ing a living?
of multiple scales of value and institutional frames. This si- In regions of the world where agents believe that geograph-
multaneity often creates complex and contradictory environ- ical mobility will translate into socioeconomic mobility, many
ments in which people make judgments about what they can kinds of evaluation are involved in decisions to migrate or
or should do to make a living. These judgments may be stay put. Different regimes of value operate in this decision
informed by conflicting moral obligations between agents that making and in the new social and economic relations that
may call for very different kinds of action. The importance mobility engenders. Hope provides a contour for the expe-
and entanglement of diverse economies in the real world calls rience of geographical mobility and the socioeconomic mo-
for a breakdown of the conceptual straightjacket that has kept bility that it is expected to generate. Frustrated hopes and
them apart as separate phenomena, foregrounding some and shame operate sometimes as a hindrance of mobility and can
marginalizing others (Escobar 2004; Gibson 2014; Gibson- aggravate a sense of crisis and worthlessness. But immobility
Graham 2005; Santos 2006). While economic pluralism is may also be a metaphor for a radical uncertainty that inhibits
important, the coemergence and interaction of these “diverse” hope.
economies is equally important. As Marxist articulation and A classic tenet of political economy is that different parties
dependency theories have long stressed, difference is produced assign different value to their contribution to production.
dialectically in the context of structures of power that per- These differences are at the root of inequality and are inti-
meate different scales (Wolpe 1980). mately tied to conditions of insecurity for those whose worth
is not recognized. At the same time, these differences can be
Crisis, Value, and Hope: Rethinking put to work and can set the framework for conflict and mo-
the Economy bilization, which can be collective, individual, or brokered by
third parties such as labor activists, entrepreneurial middle-
The articles in this special issue of Current Anthropology were men, or union organizers. Uncertainty, then, may transform
developed from papers originally presented at the Wenner- into a project for the future and motivate people to mobilize
Gren international symposium “Crisis, Value, and Hope: Re- for that aim. Sometimes nonrecognition becomes the ground
thinking the Economy,” which took place in Sintra, Portugal, for political action, but this is not always the case. Mobilizing
September 14–20, 2012. They address many questions that for recognition or for claiming resources or entitlements rests
bring together the three themes of crisis, value, and hope on particular forms of identification and creates forms of
around the assessment of value and the worth of people. They identification that did not previously exist.
explore how the practicalities of juggling with different re- Finally, value is the focus of institutional power because
gimes of value involve not only the transactions and circu- institutions are predicated on defining boundaries around

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S14 Current Anthropology Volume 55, Supplement 9, August 2014

what constitutes value and who is worthy. Social reproduction ———. 2012. The athlete’s body and the global condition: Tongan rugby
players in Japan. American Ethnologist 39:491–510.
is stabilized and regulated through the definition of these Blim, Michael. 1990. Made in Italy: small-scale industrialization and its con-
boundaries, which produce continuity in the patterns of re- sequences. New York: Praeger.
source distribution and social worth. In times of crisis, in- Bloch, Maurice, and Jonathan Parry. 1989. Introduction: money and the mo-
rality of exchange. In Money and the morality of exchange. Jonathan Parry
stitutions and their relationships to the citizenry are recon- and Maurice Bloch, eds. Pp. 1–32. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
figured, and this reconfiguration often takes the form of Bohannan, Paul. 1959. The impact of money on an African subsistence econ-
judgments about the morality of particular people, their stat- omy. Journal of Economic History 19:491–503.
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1980. Le capital social: notes provisoires. Actes de la Recherche
uses, or their actions. Thus, moments of crisis result in the en Sciences Sociales 31:2–3.
realignment of institutions and their agents’ relationships to ———. 2003. Méditations pascaliennes. Rev. edition. Paris: Seuil.
ordinary people. Ordinary people’s ability to reconfigure or Brandtstädter, Susanne. 2003. With Elias in China: civilizing process, local
restorations and power in contemporary rural China. Anthropological The-
bypass the formalizing power of institutions in their search ory 3:87–105.
for a better future is a form of struggle aimed at redefining Breman, Jan. 1996. Footloose labour: working in India’s informal economy.
the forms of political responsibility and moral obligation of Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brodkin, Karen. 2014. Work, race, and economic citizenship. Current An-
the powerful. thropology 55(suppl. 9):S116–S125.
Making a living is about “making people” in their physical, Browne, Katherine E. 2009. Economics and morality: introduction. In Eco-
social, spiritual, affective, and intellectual dimensions. It is nomics and morality: anthropological approaches. Katherine E. Browne and
B. Lynne Milgram, eds. Pp. 1–40. Lanham, MD: Altamira.
about the forms of human interaction that make different Burawoy, Michael, and Katherine Verdery. 1999. Uncertain transition: ethnog-
kinds of resources available, although often unequally, raphies of change in the postsocialist world. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield.
through social relations of production, distribution, and con- Çalışkan, Koray, and Michel Callon. 2009. Economization. 1. Shifting attention
from the economy towards processes of economization. Economy and So-
sumption. It is about struggles and stabilization around the ciety 38:369–398.
worth of people and how to make life worth living. It is this ———. 2010. Economization. 2. A research programme for the study of
effort to make life that we term “the economy.” markets. Economy and Society 39:1–32.
Callon, Michel. 1998. An essay on framing and overflowing: economic ex-
ternalities revisited by sociology. In The laws of the markets. Michel Callon,
ed. Pp. 244–269. Oxford: Blackwell.
Carrier, James, ed. 1997. Meanings of the market: the free market in Western
Acknowledgments culture. Oxford: Berg.
Carrier, James, and Daniel Miller. 1998. Virtualism: a new political economy.
We thank the Wenner-Gren Foundation, particularly Leslie Oxford: Berg.
Cole, Jennifer. 2014. Producing value among Malagasy marriage migrants in
Aiello and Laurie Obbink, for funding and organizing the France: managing horizons of expectation. Current Anthropology 55(suppl.
Sintra symposium and the participants in the symposium for 9):S85–S94.
their valuable input. In addition to the authors of the articles Cross, Jamie, and Alice Street. 2009. Anthropology at the bottom of the
pyramid. Anthropology Today 25(4):4–9.
in this special issue of Current Anthropology, participants in Dalla Costa, Mariarosa, and Selma James. 1975. El poder de la mujer y la
the Sintra symposium included Stephen Gudeman, Gavin subversión de la comunidad. Mexico City: Siglo Veintiuno.
Smith, and Janet Roitman. We also thank six anonymous Damon, Frederick H. 1980. The Kula and generalised exchange: considering
some unconsidered aspects of the elementary structures of kinship. Man,
reviewers for their helpful comments. We acknowledge fund- n.s., 15:267–292.
ing provided by the European Research Council in the form de L’Estoile, Benoı̂t. 2014. “Money is good, but a friend is better”: uncertainty,
of two Advanced Grants, “Grassroots Economics: Meaning, orientation to the future, and “the economy.” Current Anthropology
55(suppl. 9):S62–S73.
Project and Practice in the Pursuit of Livelihood” (Narotzky) Dubois, Vincent. 2014. The economic vulgate of welfare reform: elements for
and “Globalization, Sport and the Precarity of Masculinity” a socioanthropological critique. Current Anthropology 55(suppl. 9)S138–
(Besnier). Susana Narotzky’s work was also supported by an S146.
Edelman, Mark. 2005. Bringing the moral economy back in . . . to the study
ICREA-Academia fellowship (2011–2015) from the Gener- of 21st-century transnational peasant movements. American Anthropologist
alitat de Catalunya and a grant (CSO2011-26843) from the 107:331–345.
Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad of Spain. Ehrenreich, Barbara. 1990. Fear of falling: the inner life of the middle class.
New York: Harper.
Elson, Diane. 2001. For an emancipatory socio-economics. Paper presented
at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development meeting
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